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FESTIVALS

What’s on in Spain: 15 and a half things to do in February

February is the month to shake off the winter blues with Carnival! Or head to a celebration of the most tragic of star-crossed lovers. That doesn't sound like your scene? Then how about a gastro festval?

What's on in Spain: 15 and a half things to do in February
Depositphotos

Here are some of the highlights going on across Spain this February.

Food

Madrid Gastrofestival, January 23rd until February 10th

Photo: GastroFestival  Madrid

This is more than just a food festival. The Spanish capital becomes a hub for gourmet cuisine, as well as the art, fashion, literature and films that are inspired by it. 2019 celebrates an extended edition of the famous festival. Foodies come, eat and rejoice.

 

Calçots in Catalonia (February and March)


Photo: Depositphotos

February and March are Calçots time in Catalonia! You can find the traditional grilled spring onion all around the region. In Barcelona there is a market throughout the period in Parc de les Tres Xemeineies where guests can celebrate the urban edition of the Calçotada to the sounds of Sardana music and a porró of vino tinto.

Recipe: How to make, eat and enjoy calçots

 

Arts

Alberto Giacometti Retrospective at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, runs until February 24th

Photo:Guggenheim.

This month offers you the last chance to visit the retrospective on 20th century artist Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) which opened in October 2018. Born in Switzerland, Giacometti spent most of his life in Paris. His sculptures and paintings have connections to surrealism, cubism and existentialism and count as some of the most influential works of the past century.


ARCOmadrid International Contemporary Art Fair February 27th until March 3rd


2015 edition. Photo: Depositphotos

The International Contemporary Art Fair is one of the main art fairs on the international circuit and a must-see for art lovers and collectors in Madrid. It takes place in the huge exhibition center IFEMA but also look out for galleries in the captal holding their own events.

Cultural Festivals

Almond Blossom Festival La Palma, Canary Islands, January 26th until March 2nd.


Photo: Depositphotos

Each year, the island of La Palma celebrates the blossoming of the almond trees that grow everywhere on the island. As spring is still far away in other regions of Europe, why not forget about winter's darkness and celebrate spring while tasting the exquisite handmade almond sweets?

La Endiabla , Cuenca, Castille-La Mancha, February 1st to 4th


Photo: La Endiablada

Every year at the beginning of February, visitors flock to the small town of Almonacid del Marquesado in Cuenca where locals celebrate La Endiablada, or “the brotherhood of the devils”. Since at least the 13th century, locals have gathered for this celebration, dressing up in outlandish “devil” costumes with noisy cowbells and dancing through the town. The festival is meant to honour both the Virgin Mary as well as the town's patron saint, San Blas.

 

Festes de Moros i Cristians a Sant Blai, Bocairent, Valencia February 1st to 5th. 


Photo: Juan Sanz/  Bocairent Town Hall

In February, the small town Bocairent in the Valencia region hosts the tradtional Moors and Christians festival.  There are re-enactments of the fights between the two groups as well as parades and fireworks – not to mention the perfect opportunity to visit this truly charming town.

 

Chinese New Year, Barcelona February 2nd


The Chinese Dragon. Photo: Depositphotos

On the 2nd of February 2019, Barcelona gets ready to celebrate the dawn of the Chinese new year – the year of the Pig. There will be fairs, shows and a parade that you can visit for free, all related to Chinese culture. Make sure not to miss the parade that starts at 11.30 am in Estació del Nord Park, heading for Arc de Triomf where the celebrations and the fair take place. Did we mention there will be lots of Chinese food?

 

Santa Eulàlia Festival, Barcelona, February 8th to 12th

Photo: Santa Eulalia Festival

Once the patron of Barcelona, Santa Eulàlia was more or less abandoned in the 17th century to make space for the city's beloved Mercé. However, the celebration of the former patron now takes place in February and is the perfect opportunity for everyone who missed the Festes de la Mercé in September to encounter giants on the street or risk a scorching in the correfocs, the traditional firework runs. You might also stumble upon the famous human towers and Sardana dances. On the 12th of February, Saint Eulàlias day, visitors can enter the Ajuntament (City Hall) as well as several other museums for free.

READ MORE Els Castells: What you need to know about the human towers of Catalonia

 

Las Bodas de Isabel de Segura, Teruel, Aragon February 14th to 17th 

Photo: Teruel City Hall

Believing her true love to be dead, Isabel marries another in Spain’s take on Romeo and Juliet. Every year the city of Teruel revives the tragedy of the two lovers on the month of romance. Celebrate your Valentine’s day with star-crossed lovers and medieval dress in the mountainous Aragon region of eastern Spain.

 

Flamenco festival of Jerez  February 22nd, March 3rd.


Photo: AFP

The Andalusian town of Jerez takes its unofficial title of “city of flamenco” quite seriously, and no other time of year is that more apparent than during the annual Festival de Jerez. For two weeks, the city comes alive with dozens of performances of the traditional dance and musical style.

 

Carnival

 

Carnival Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, February 7th to 27th 


Photo: Depositphotos

Those looking to have the Rio de Janeiro carnival experience without having to fly all the way to South America should head instead to the largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife. Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a twin city of the Brazilian metropolis and its carnival is world-renowned – as much as it is out of this world.

Sitges Carnival February 26th to March 6th


Photo:Sitges festival

More than 250,000 people flock to the coastal town of Sitges about 35 kilometres from Barcelona, every February for one of the biggest gay carnivals in the world. The week is packed with parades, parties and shows and the gay-friendly town opens its doors to thousands of revellers. 

Cádiz Carnival February 28th until March 10th 


Photo: Depositphotos

The carnival in Cádiz is one of the most famous in Spain, dating back to the 16th century. These days it’s all about dressing up and poking fun at politicians and people in the news, as well as the usual eating and drinking of course.

Sports

Seville Marathon February 17th


Photo: Zurich Marathon, Sevilla

If hills aren't your thing, why not take part in the flattest marathon in Europe, which takes in some of the most picturesque sights of Seville along the route. You can still register if you fancy taking up a New Year´s challenge. Otherwise, why not lend your support to the runners by cheering them on from the side lines?

Half Marathon,  Barcelona February 10th


Photo: Depositphotos

Talking about sports: If the marathon in Seville is too much for you, you could opt for the half-marathon in Barcelona. It's “only” 20 km so you don't have to be a running ace in order to succeed but it still gives you the atmosphere and experience of a real marathon. Registration is open – run!

 

By Leslie Fried / The Local

DISCOVER SPAIN

Following the Dalí trail around Spain’s Costa Brava

Catalonia-based travel writer Esme Fox embarks on a voyage into the mind of Salvador Dalí, visiting various locations and landmarks that the Spanish surrealist created or made his own around Spain's Costa Brava.

Following the Dalí trail around Spain's Costa Brava

Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí is perhaps one of Spain’s most famous and loved 20th-century artists. He is known for his quirky images of melting clocks, elephants with long spindly legs and the portraits of his wife, Gala.

Dalí was born in the town of Figueres in 1904, which is located in northern Catalonia, approximately 50km north of the city of Girona. This is the best place to begin your Dalí tour of the region.

Figueres Day 1  

Arriving in Figueres your first stop should be the Salvador Dalí Theatre-Museum, this is where some of the artist’s most important works are held. The museum was in fact created by Dalí himself when he was still alive and was inaugurated in 1974. It’s housed in an old theatre, hence the name. Everything in it was designed by Dalí to offer visitors a real experience and draw them into his world.

It’s eye-catching even from the outside – pink in colour and studded with yellow plaster croissants, and on the walls sit golden statues and his iconic large white eggs – a symbol which you’ll see repeated on your journey.

Salvador Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres. Photo: Julia Casado / Pixabay

The museum is filled with 1,500 pieces including his sketches, paintings and sculptures. It also houses the remains of Dalí himself, down in the crypt, where you can pay your respects to the artist.

Next door to the museum is a permanent exhibition dedicated to the exquisite jewellery Dalí designed, which shouldn’t be missed. 

Afterward, you can go and see the house where Dalí was born at number 6 on Carrer Monturiol. It’s not currently an attraction, however there are renovation works underway to turn it into a new museum about the artist’s childhood. It was due to open in 2020, but there were significant delays because of the pandemic and it is still nowhere near finished.

Spend the night at the Hotel Duran, where Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala in fact lived while they were renovating the theatre. The hotel restaurant even has a special Dalí room, filled with images of Dalí and all his friends, as well as objects belonging to the artist.

Cadaqués Days 2 and 3

After a winding and hairpin turn journey west, you’ll find yourself at one of the eastern-most points in Spain – the town of Cadaqués. One of the most attractive towns on the Costa Brava, its white-washed buildings gleam against the cerulean blue bay and pink bougainvillea decorates its tiny interior cobbled streets.

In summer in particular, this place gets very busy, so make sure you’ve booked well in advance for your accommodation.

Dalí loved this area in summer too and built his summer house in the tiny neighbouring village of Portlligat. The house is now a museum, but as it’s quite small, booking tickets several weeks or even months ahead of time is essential.

Dalí’s house in Portlligat. Photo: Esme Fox

Dalí designed the house himself, which was created from several fisherman’s cottages joined together and is topped with his iconic white eggs.

Inside, you’ll see the artist’s studio, where many of his most famous works were created, including two unfinished pieces which still sit on the easels. You can also see Dalí and Gala’s bedroom where they kept canaries to wake them up in the morning and crickets to send them off to sleep at night. There’s also an angled mirror ready to catch the sun, ensuring that Dalí was one of the first people in the whole of Spain to see the sunrise each morning.

The highlight of the visit however is the vast garden, which even features a replica of the lion fountain in Granada’s Alhambra palace as well as his famous sofa in the shape of a pair of pink lips. The views from the top part of his garden above the olive grove are so stunning that it’s no wonder Dalí was inspired by the landscapes here.

There’s a replica of Alhambra’s lion fountain in Dalí’s garden. Photo: Esme Fox

On your second day in Cadaqués, head north to Paratge de Tudela located in the Cap de Creus Natural Park. You’ll need a car or taxi to get here. Here, you can hike among the very same landscape that Dalí painted in some of his most celebrated works. Look carefully or take a tour to see the same rock formations featured in his paintings.

For dinner, book a table at El Barroco, a traditional Lebanese restaurant and one of Dalí’s favourites when he lived there. He ate there at least twice a week in summer and it’s said that whenever he had famous guests he would meet them there instead of inviting them into his home. Dalí’s face adorns the door and inside it’s just as surreal with colourful plants, quirky statues and mirrors hanging in the courtyard. And inside it’s like a museum itself, filled with glass cases of bizarre objects and old musical instruments. There are even some photos of Dalí and Gala.

Book a table at El Barroco in Cadaqués. Photo: Esme Fox

Day 4

Make your way 60km south of Cadaques to the tiny charming villages of inland Costa Brava and specifically the village of Púbol. It’s here that Dalí bought an old castle in 1969 and renovated it from 1982 to 1984 for his wife Gala to live in.

Although the castle dates back to the 12th century, Dalí modernised it and added his creative and whimsical touches. It was a kind of love letter to his wife.

Dalí said of the castle: “Everything celebrates the cult of Gala, even the round room, with its perfect echo that crowns the building as a whole and which is like a dome of this Galactic cathedral… I needed to offer Gala a case more solemnly worthy of our love. That is why I gave her a mansion built on the remains of a 12th-century castle: the old castle of Púbol in La Bisbal, where she would reign like an absolute sovereign, right up to the point that I could visit her only by hand-written invitation from her. I limited myself to the pleasure of decorating her ceilings so that when she raised her eyes, she would always find me in her sky”.

Visit Gala’s castle in Púbol. Photo: Enric / WikiCommons

When Gala died in 1982, the castle became her mausoleum and she is still buried there today.

The castle is now a museum where you can tour each of the grand rooms, serene gardens, as well as spot Dalí’s whacky touches. Gala for example asked Dalí to cover up the radiators because she didn’t like to look at them, so as a joke, Dalí covered them with paintings of yet more radiators. 

Day four completes your Dalí trail around the Costa Brava. Go ahead and immerse yourself in the whimsical world of Dalí. 

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